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In the most common meaning, athlete is a person possessing above average physical skills ( strength, agility, and endurance) and thus seen suitable for physical activities, in particular, contests. An ancient Greek word for "contest" was athlos, and those competing in the games were called athletes.

In more specific settings, an Athlete is one who participates in Athletics, Olympic games and other competitive events such as professional sports.

Athlete can also, although less often, refer to a mental, instead of physical, competitor or possessors of skills.